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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Three Very Cheap and Very Good Nikon DX Lenses

I've said this many times: Photography can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn't have to be. Let's assume that an expensive lens is optically better than a cheap one (although this isn't always the case). But can you quantify this? If you compare a lens such as the brilliant Nikon Nikkor AFS DX 35mm f/1.8, which costs less than $200, with this one, that costs almost $4000, what kind of conclusions can you reach? The expensive lens is obviously better optically, but is it 20 times better? How would you even begin to measure such a thing?

Today I will offer you a group review of three Nikon DX lenses which, in my opinion, deserve a place in your camera bag. Of course, we are all different. You might be a macro shooter that values portability. Or, you might be a portrait photographer working in low light. Take my advice and adapt it to your personal needs.

Nikkor 35mm f/1.8
What more could you possibly want from a lens? Taken with the AF-S 35mm f/1.8 - a lens costing less than $200 brand new

My choice was made with these requirements in mind:
- the lenses should be fully compatible with all Nikon DX cameras (read: they should have autofocus motor, so that they can be also used with entry-level Nikon cameras, such as the D3300, D5500, etc.)
- the lenses should be somewhat complementary. In other words, I chose lenses that could be seen in terms of lineup (giving three great 18-xx zooms is kinda pointless).
- the price of each individual lens should be up to $300-350*, for a collective price of no more than $1000. That's still a lot of money for many people, but remember that this lineup could be all that you'll ever need (not to mention, it's still cheaper than Nikon's newest AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E lens).

* I'm now talking about new lenses, including refurbished or gray market items. Generally speaking I advise against grey market items, but not so when it's about a cheap lens. It's one thing to be without guarantee purchasing a $2000 camera, and entirely another when purchasing a cheap, simple, $300 consumer lens.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Nikon Cameras in Fall 2015

It's October the 1st today. Pretty soon we'll all be in shopping fever - Black Friday and Christmas are just around the corner, or so ads and marketing will want us to believe. Let's take a look at the situation, so that you can be prepared, informed, and know what you want or need* when it comes to cameras or lenses.

*These are two very different things.

Things are quite slow in regard to upcoming cameras (in terms of rumors). Basically, there is the Nikon D5 coming and that's it. The long-awaited D400 is not yet here (and, alas, maybe never), nor do we have any smaller DX cameras coming.

The D80 was much better than the D70. The D90 was even better, and the D7000 even better. But after that, something happened...

The first thing you need to ask yourself is this:
What would a Nikon D3500, a D5500, or a D7300 look like? In which way would it be different than the D3300, the D5500, or the D7200 respectively?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Review of the Nikon Nikkor AF-S VR 18-140mm: Darn Good Compromise

Lately I've been searching for a "compromise" lens for my D3200. If you need want a truly long such lens, there are some good options for you. But I prefer something shorter, and hence (theoretically at least) more capable. Let's see if the AF-S VR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 is such a lens.

The widest part is pretty strong, and the lens resolves plenty of detail.

+ optically very, very good. More importantly, it's well-balanced (i.e. consistent) throughout the range.
+ although it's not exactly cheap, it's not terribly expensive either. Good value
+ good, reliable autofocus & VR operation.